How to Survive a Montana Winter – Karen’s Top 5 Winter Tips
Winter has finally hit Montana. After all, it’s the middle of January and this is the first sign of the season we have really seen. As you might imagine, living in snow country has it’s challenges. Here are my top 5 things you can do to make a Montana winter a little easier, safer and energy efficient.
Make sure your vehicle is in top running condition
Have a mechanic give it a once over to check all the belts, hoses, fluids, tire pressure, antifreeze and heating system. If your car battery is more than five years old, you should think about replacing it. For those of you, who have the popular extra-wide, low-profile tires on your vehicle, will probably find yourself in a ditch. You should definitely invest in a set of studded snow tires.
Dress for cold temperatures
Layers, layers, layers! As the temperature changes, you can always remove some layers of clothing. Well-insulated boots are a must for keeping your toes warm. The good boots are usually rubber on the outside and have liners that can be removed and dried when they get wet. If you don’t have the proper gloves for Montana weather, your fingers can freeze in a matter of minutes, so always have well insulated gloves or mittens handy. And let’s not forget your head! It is a proven fact that most heat loss from the human body occurs through the head, so some sort of stocking cap or scarf is a must.
Prepare your home
Keeping your body and vehicle warm in working order aren’t the only things you should consider when winter hits. Your home can be a huge money pit when the weather is cold and your home is not insulated properly. Generally, homes built after 1975 are well insulated and ready to stand against the bitter Montana cold. Always make sure your furnace is operating at its best to keep you and your family nice and toasty. It should go without saying that all garden hoses should be removed in the fall and stored away, not left hooked to the water spigot and your underground sprinklers blown out. Leaving the hose hooked to the water spigot and leaving water in the sprinklers can cause the pipes and sprinklers to freeze, and that means expensive water damage to clean up.
Take care of your pets
Let’s not forget that Montana winter isn’t just cold and harsh on us humans. All of us animal lovers and pet owners know how tough winter can be on our pets. You should always have a place where your animals can be out of the wind as they “do their business.” Something I found interesting is that you should increase the amount food you feed your pet, as they burn more calories when they are cold to stay warm. Watch the temperature and the wind chill factor closely, as many pets can freeze in the outdoors during winter.
Be smart, think ahead, slow down and watch for other drivers. And let’s remember that just because you own a big old 4-wheel drive pickup does not mean you can stop any faster on snow and ice than any other driver. Yes, you will have better traction to get going, but stopping is a whole different story! Buckle up, think smart and be safe this winter.